I listened to a talk by Prof. Lee Ming-tsung two days ago on how every place should have its own particular sense, i.e. culture and atmosphere. What is the sense of Taipei? I found extremely intriguing answers on a hike to Xiangshan (Elephant Mountain) yesterday.
Amazingly, Xiangshan is a rather international tourist spot now. There are much more foreign travelers than imagined. Every stop in the mountain is unique in its own way. For example, upon reaching the Giant Rock Park, we were stunned by the queue. What were people lining up for? It turns out that they would like to take a picture upon one of the rocks. It was amusing to eavesdrop people's talk about how to climb the rock or how to avoid the crowd by going up on another rock. I could feel their strong desire to conquer the rocks! Besides, most people would be mistaken as the shoppers in Xin-yi District since their wear was no different. In fact, it's important to look fashionable for the photo on the rock. In the beginning I was just watching people in the shade, but I couldn't help sketching the super interesting image later on.
As we moved ahead to one pavilion, in front of it were the locals doing exercise, and in the pavilion there were other stories going on. An old man played the accordion while a young man was lifting weight next to him. This is the mountain version of World Gym! Feeling amazed again, I took out my sketchbook immediately. The half-naked uncle in the lower right corner was eager to have me request a song. Since the previous one is a classic by the famous singer Teresa Teng, I had no choice but to request another song of hers. After the performance, the accordion musician came to teach me how to massage my hands. What a harmonious afternoon!
The sense of Taipei lies in a wide mix of all the cultural elements, whether local or foreign. Strangely, nothing feels out of place here and there are always surprises to look forward to!